Healthcare Reform: Our Great Opportunity to Fix Primary Care Medicine

I believe that in order to fully fix our healthcare system, we must focus on reforming primary care medicine in this country.
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President Obama has brought healthcare reform back to center stage. No one can argue that the current system is out of control and imploding. Data compiled by the California HealthCare Foundation in its Health Care Costs 101, 2009 Edition, paint a bleak and dire picture. In 2008 total healthcare spending reached 17% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and is expected to increase to 20% of GDP by 2018. The amount spent per person on healthcare increased 81% in just 10 years, from 1997 to 2007.

Although spending on healthcare in the U.S. is more than twice the entire military budget in this country, there are far too many unnecessary casualties. Each year, 180,000 people die from medical procedures or drugs. 17% of all hospital admissions are caused by drug side-effects. And nearly 200,000 people are killed each year by their medications.

Clearly, this is a war we are losing.

This is my first entry in a series of blogs I will dedicate to healthcare reform in the coming weeks. The situation can't be solved by simply reallocating resources. And it won't be solved automatically when the 50 million Americans without health insurance become insured, although that's an integral part of the solution.

I believe that in order to fully fix our healthcare system, we must focus on reforming primary care medicine in this country. Changes must be made in three areas simultaneously. First, medical education in this country has to be overhauled. Second, the healthcare delivery model has to give doctors and other healthcare providers the ability to spend more time with their patients and greater flexibility in treatment options. Finally, health insurance reimbursement should be expanded to cover all licensed healthcare providers and the treatments they prescribe.

I will explore each of these solutions more fully in my upcoming blogs and look forward to your comments.

John Neustadt, ND is medical director of Montana Integrative Medicine and the co-founder, with Steve Pieczenik, MD, PhD, of Nutritional Biochemistry, Incorporated (NBI) and NBI Testing and Consulting Corp (NBITC). The doctors created Osteo-K, a dietary osteoporosis supplement formulated by physicians from Harvard, Cornell, MIT and Bastyr to promote bone health. Read more on the Nutritional Biochemistry website about osteoporosis treatments, bone health, calcium supplements, and decreasing risk for osteoporosis and fractures. Their latest books, A Revolution in Health through Nutritional Biochemistry, A Revolution in Health Part 2: How to Take Charge of Your Health and Foundations and Applications of Medical Biochemistry in Clinical Practice, are available on Amazon.